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Letter: Invisible Disabilities Week 2022

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"Recognizing Invisible Disabilities," published by the Columbus Dispatch on October 18, 2022

When many of us hear the term "disability," our first thought might be a person with a physical disability who uses a wheelchair, someone who walks with a cane, or a person who communicates through American Sign Language. These disabilities are easily recognized. Others aren’t obvious.

Approximately 66 million Americans have invisible disabilities. An invisible disability is a physical, mental, or neurological condition that isn’t readily apparent based on appearance. These could include conditions like depression, anxiety disorder, chronic pain, dyslexia, or other conditions that impact a person’s movements, senses, or endurance.

People with invisible disabilities can be accused of faking or exaggerating their conditions. A common example is a person who uses an accessible parking space but is not using a mobility device, such as a cane or a wheelchair. Strangers may not realize they have a medical condition that limits their endurance or causes walking difficulties.

To raise awareness, Invisible Disabilities Week will be celebrated from Oct. 16-22.

In recent years, in line with Gov. Mike DeWine’s Executive Order to make Ohio a disability inclusion state and model employer of disabilities, Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities has extended its reach to serve more Ohioans with disabilities, many of which could be described as “invisible."

These include middle and high school students, college students, and Ohioans linked to court treatment teams. We’re constantly pursuing new ways to help meet the needs of all individuals with disabilities.

We also work with more than 700 employer partners to promote and support the hiring of individuals with disabilities. Most workplaces include employees with invisible disabilities, but many choose not to disclose their conditions

It is valuable for employers to recognize invisible disabilities in the workplace, and Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities can help provide services and resources that promote an inclusive, diverse, and accessible work environment.

Show your support for Invisible Disabilities Week by wearing blue, or better yet, remember to be kind to others. You never know who might have an invisible disability that is impacting their daily life. If you would like to get started with Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities, visit OODWorks.com.